Amongst many other objectives, Marvel Studios is intent on making a big push toward greater representation of all sorts within the MCU for Phase 4 and beyond. Already released in theaters were the MCU's second female-led movie in Black Widow and the studio's first film with an Asian lead and predominantly Asian cast in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
This trend looks to continue with the third Phase 4 movie Eternals, led by Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao, who has teamed up with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige to assemble an elite cast of Hollywood icons and newcomers. Boasting only two white American-born individuals in the core cast, this expansive team is set to make a profound impact on not only the MCU but movies as a whole.
Included in story-based representation will be the MCU's first openly gay couple, which features Brian Tyree Henry's Phastos as the franchise's most prominent gay character to date. In a recent interview, his on-screen partner shared his feelings on how special fans can expect this bond to be in the movie.
Haaz Sleiman On Marvel Studios' LGBTQ+ Representation
Eternals star Haaz Sleiman spoke with Out Magazine on his role in bringing the MCU's first openly gay couple to the big-screen upon the film's release in November 2021.
Sleiman admitted that while he feels "lucky" and "grateful" to be in this position, he is excited that he had the opportunity to "humanize the hell" out of the character and show how "beautiful" LGBTQ+ families can be:
“I feel lucky, and I’m grateful. And…I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I feel like Marvel, they were very smart to cast me in it because I got to humanize the hell out of it. I got to humanize an LGBTQ+ family and show how beautiful they are.
Sleiman explained further how excited he is to see LGBTQ+ stories told in a meaningful way on TV and in movies such as Eternals. He specifically referenced these projects putting more thought into "portraying queer people in a more fuller way" and moving away from long-overused stereotypes:
“We’re evolving. The most exciting thing is the stories that are being told in television and film about LGBTQ people. A lot of TV shows are being more thoughtful about portraying queer people in a more fuller way, not so one-dimensional or very stereotype[d]. Things that have never happened before are starting to happen.”
Phastos and Partner Fully Fleshed Out
By the end of Phase 3, the closest thing Marvel Studios had to an openly gay character was director Joe Russo's cameo role in Avengers: Endgame. Phase 4 helped push this trend in the right direction in a more meaningful way by confirming Tom Hiddleston's Loki to be bisexual during his chat on the train with Sylvie in Episode 3 of his Disney+ series.
Now, Eternals is about to take the biggest step yet towards LGBTQ+ representation yet in the MCU by not only confirming that Brian Tyree Henry's Phastos is gay but fully showing his relationship with Sleiman's unnamed character. Even with Phastos fitting in amongst an all-star team of heroes and cast members, there will certainly be ample time spent showing the beauty of this marriage in the film's 2-hour-36-minute runtime.
Sleiman has mentioned on numerous occasions how thrilled he is to be bringing this kind of visibility in Marvel's Eternals, and the studio is certainly looking forward to delivering this story in the best way possible.
Marvel Studios' Eternals will release in theaters on November 5, 2021.